West Wing Continuity Guide
path: Home / Episodes * #13 "Take Out the Trash Day"

President ©2001-www.arttoday.com
Written by Aaron Sorkin,  Directed by Thomas Schlamme
Takes Place: February 2000 ("...in nine months he has to get a Democratic Congress elected." - "The Mid-terms elections are almost a year from now.")
Broadcast: January 26, 2000
Query: Is Leo lying when he says, 'I haven't had a drink or a pill in six and a half years'"?

A report from a commission investigating sex education classes has some disturbing revelations. Each of the senior members of the staff has to find the time to read it. When C.J. sits down with it, Danny comes into her office and when she tells him what she's reading, she adds:
"I'm anticipating any joke you could possibility make and not finding any of them funny."

And the President is signing hate crimes legislation and it doesn't go smoothly.

Several stories are coming out this week which C.J. is told to hold until Friday.
"Why give them all the stories we aren't wild about on Friday?" Donna asks Josh.
Cause the press "has x-column inches to fill. They're going to fill them no matter what. So if we give them one story, it's x column inches...."
"Why on Friday."
"Cause nobody reads the paper on Saturday."

As usual, other things are going on. Sam is upset because:
"There's a town in Alabama that wants to abolish all laws except the Ten Commandments. . . . Well, they're going to have a problem. . . . Coveting thy neighbor's wife, for instance. How're you going to enforce that one?"
He isn't the only person who knows about this. When he brings it up to Leo, Leo says:
"Coveting thy neighbor's wife is going to cause problems."

And the problems stemming from the public revelation of Leo's drug treatment continue. Although the President warns Leo about so-called friends who will turn on him now, Leo meets with one man, who urges him to resign:
"We're going to hear stories about booze and pills and God knows what you did."
Finally Leo has enough, "I think you should walk out of here right now. As a matter of fact, I think you should run."

And the head of a subcommittee which has oversight responsibility for White House appropriations calls Josh and Sam as a preliminary to possibly holding hearings on Leo, drugs, the White House internal investigation of the drug charges and Josh's deposition. Congressman Bruno says:
". . .I am throwing you a rope. . . . This is what happens when you put teenagers in the White House. You come close to perjury in this deposition.... I'd like to run hearings on the two of you being stupid. . . ."
But the Congressional leaders would prefer to make a deal. They won't hold such hearings if the Administration doesn't release the sex education report until after the mid-terms in a year. The President agrees.

Meanwhile, the staff figures out who leaked the information on Leo's treatment and Sam fires Karen Larson and instructs his assistant to see that she is thrown out of the building. Leo, though, wants to meet her before she leaves:
"I wanted to meet you and I wanted you to meet me.... When you read in my personnel file that I'd been treated for alcohol and drug abuse, what went through your mind? Karen, it's okay, you can say it. The worst thing I'm empowered to do is fire you and I've already done that."
"My father drank a lot."
"So did mine. In fact he died from it. He came home late one night very drunk. My mother was yelling at him. I'm not sure about what, but I heard the yelling downstairs from my bedroom. She came upstairs and he went out to the garage and shot himself in the head."
"Is that why you drank and took drugs?"
"Nah. I drank and took drugs cause I'm a drug addict and an alcoholic."
"How long did it take you to get cured?"
"I'm not cured. You don't get cured. I haven't had a drink or a pill in six and a half years. Which isn't to say I won't have one tomorrow."
"What would happen if you did?"
"I don't know. But probably a nightmare the likes of which both of our fathers experienced and me too."
"And, so after six and a half years you're still not allowed to have a drink?"
"The problem is that I don't want a drink. I want ten drinks."
"Are things that bad?"
"No," Leo says with a laugh.
"Then why?"
"Because I'm an alcoholic."
"I don't understand."
"I know. It's okay. Hardly anyone does. It's very hard to understand. . . . You haven't answered my question yet. When you saw my personnel file, when you saw I'd been through treatment, what went through your mind?"
". . .you have all these important decisions to make in your job. . . . People's lives. . . ."
"Karen, what you did caused a lot of problems. For me for the President for a lot of people we don't even know. But I'm not sure it wasn't a little bit brave. . . . You and I will give each other a second chance," Leo finally tells her.

For anyone interested in guest stars of this episode, let us recommend the West Wing Episode Guide.
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